To Nice avec amour
Thursday July 14th 2016, 10:25 pm
Filed under: History

A shawl, an afghan, anything–tonight I want to knit a hug for every person in France.

I’ll-stretch Plumes
Wednesday July 13th 2016, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Knit

The tech took about nineteen minutes, and I know that because I was just shy of finishing a second row when he came back with my ears.

I was at the audiologist’s, having my hearing aids cleaned, and apologized to the two women who came in and wanted to start a conversation about what I was knitting: I leaned way forward and watched their faces and still didn’t quite catch what they were saying. That though at least is one place where people get it when you can’t hear.

But I did get the question as to what the name of the pattern was.

Ostrich Plumes.

They were delighted, and one turned to the other and as she spoke her hands mimed wrapping a shawl tightly around her shoulders in great happiness at what clearly was a fond memory.

Which made me happy, and motivated to knit more.

She wanted to touch the yarn, and yes, sure!

Size 5 needles, 49″ wide by 21″ long so far–or so–you know how stretchy things lie at measuring–not bad for the first week.

(Ed. to add: unblocked, it looks right now like a knitted version of the cushy thing in the peach boxes to keep the fruit from bruising. I like that.)

Five left
Tuesday July 12th 2016, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

We were fresh out of peaches

Two weeks ago we asked at Andy’s when the Lorings would be in. Today we asked again as we came in–and I laughed when they said they were picking them tomorrow. We were one day too soon.

But hey, a reason to come back in the same week? Incentive to share Baby Crawfords? Cool. They were so good last year that I planted my own in January, with thanks to Andy for that variety. (The white one there is a Silver Logan.)

My friend Nina has wanted to make the drive down there with me for some time and just hasn’t been able to yet, so tonight I brought some over to her to give her a better idea of what I’d been talking about.

The great juice of summer dripping down everybody’s arms as the slices got passed around her loved ones: the way a peach is supposed to be.

Wait for it…
Monday July 11th 2016, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

One of my sisters wants a black cowl and for her that will definitely happen, though it does remind me of one time when I wanted to knit someone a black scarf. I picked out a soft camelhair yarn to push myself to be willing to work with that color.

Small black stitches are of course harder to see to work with than when I was a 20-something and I confess I never finished that particular project–but the person never knew anyway, so, hey.

Turns out it was just as hard for a camel to through the needles with my eyes.

Shade Garden shawl
Sunday July 10th 2016, 11:13 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends,Knit

Bigfoot came back tonight.

Now, in hindsight, there are a whole lot of better names I could have picked for that pattern, even if it amused me enough at the time to think it was actually a good idea. It was when someone told me, “Well, I can tell *you* have small feet” (and I do…) It’s been out there that way for nine years now and, um, oops. Sorry.

The longtime owner of the original brushed-kid-mohair shawl, the yarn dyed by Lisa Souza, told her sister (who delivered it since she lived closer) to tell me she loved it, she treasured it, but in our warm climate she simply never wore it–it made her too hot. She’d decided she was just finally going to ask would I mind? Was this okay? She was sure I could find the right person to re-gift it to and she really really loved it but it was a shame to have it just sit there.

(I couldn’t for the life of me have told you what I’d given her.)

Oh! Right! That one, the one that was actually in the book, dyed in Shade Garden colorway! Sure, I said, stroking its softness, although I might, y’know, actually keep it and wear it myself. Or not. We’ll see. Was it okay if I wore it?

That got me a laugh.

I’ll add a picture in the morning; we had a great visit and it’s late. (Ed. to add, there you go. And I would have given it to the sister who brought it back to me and let it stay in their family but she’s a redhead who does not wear purple.)

17 miles
Saturday July 09th 2016, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

Every now and then, even the online mapmaker folks goof. Don’t know if you’ve encountered it but I have a couple of times. Like the time I was trying to meet up with an old college roommate and finally pulled over and called her.

The map said this road connected up with that. Turns out that the one stopped a block shy–you had to go around this other way.

So. I used to on rare occasion go to Green Planet Yarns when they were in downtown Campbell, but parking there was always horrible, and Purlescence was closer and easier all around, so, eh. I did like the owner, though, even if I didn’t know her very well, and she stocked some nice stuff.

And then Green Planet moved to San Jose.

The map…

I tried. A year ago I spent an hour wandering around on (turns out) the wrong side of the freeway, pulling over several times to check my phone to see what it was saying now, since I couldn’t hear it. Finally I gave up in frustration and headed home.

I joked with Kathryn’s husband at Cottage Yarns a few days ago when I went to show her the Mecha afghan that I’d be back in two weeks (again) with the next one in Rios, but after all that color intensity, when I actually sat down to knit my eyes said no. I actually finally wanted to knit up some vanilla dk weight cashmere/silk I’d bought from Colourmart a few months ago: I wanted plain ordinary white and I wanted to knit that warm, soft yarn, even if it would need small needles and even if superwash merino might be far, far more practical. I’d bought this because I wanted to make this, so, so there.

Grab the impulse while you’ve got it and go.

Hmm. Size 4 was making a great fabric but I learned in one little swatch that my hands needed a little more give, a little bigger loop for that needle tip–and that it still looked fine on 5s. (3.75mm)

My circular 5s were 24″ long. Wait–how, after all these years, could I not have…! Surely I do in some forgotten bag somewhere, but oh well. My 231 stitches were packed in so densely that it was a constant fight to push them along or out of the way. My hands never got to relax nor could my eyes see the pattern coming to be.

There was only one thing for it. I knew who would have the brand needle I wanted.

Yay for repaired maps: this time I found them.

There was not a soul I knew in sight. That felt strange.

But the clerk was friendly, and I bought a skein of supersoft thick wool in the most perfect purple, a semi-instant cowl-to-be. The color won.

She offered to wind it up for me. And not only did they have my needle–they were closing it out. They had one last rosewood 40″ size US 5, and it was on sale and it was perfect and I got exactly what I’d come for. And a 40″ US 4, too, because.

Re the yarn: Sure, thanks!

Which means I had a moment to just stand around, or….

There were two knitters at the table. They invited me to join them and then included me in on the conversation as if I were just as much old friends with them as they were. They told me when they’d be hanging out and that they’d love to see me around again.

I think my transition to Purlescencelessness just eased a bit.

Walked off the job
Friday July 08th 2016, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Mango tree,Wildlife

Five days later… I can actually see the difference across the yard from day to day. That set of three branches growing from one in Sunday’s picture? This is just the one that was at the back.

The older new leaves are greening up fast.

The long branch at lower right: it’s got a whorl of leaves about 2/3 up (even if they somehow vanish to the camera), which makes it the perfect place to prune it early next year to trigger another flush of growth in time for fruit to happen. (Having learned…) Lots of leaves means lots of new branches from the spot. Ten is my record so far.

Had a male California quail (video) wandering around the patio for the first time this year. A squirrel was incurably curious but pointed its tail hard at the intruder while straining its body away just as hard, nose stretched nevertheless towards this strange big bird in spite of the fear it was signaling: what WAS this thing?!

While the quail likewise was afraid of it but eventually, following a seed trail, got too close in spite of itself–at which point the squirrel flipped over half-backwards while the quail jumped hard the other way.

That didn’t go so badly. The squirrel wanted one good sniff from closer up now: Will it bite? Does it peck? Is it a bird? Can I eat it?

At that the quail took its deely-bopper headbanger ornament (*why* did evolution do that to it?) and announced with its feet we were done now.

Angel wings
Thursday July 07th 2016, 11:01 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Wildlife

Having woken up to the news of an utterly innocent and well-loved man in Minnesota shot dead by the cops as he reached for his driver’s license, bookended by the snipers in Dallas tonight shooting eleven cops, killing four (update: five), who were there to make sure a protest rally stayed peaceful…

Both feel like the Kent State days of my childhood. We have GOT to stop doing this, thinking like this, acting on this. I want the Peace sign to make a huge comeback in our society: offer love to one another, not warring.

On a different note.

It was almost exactly a year ago, and I remember because it was right after the Fourth of July but while most of the traffic around my husband’s office was very low because people were on vacation, when I came around a blind curve in a steep hill and saw it.

There had been a pair of red-tailed hawks soaring above the nearby buildings for as long as anyone could remember, kiting on the thermals.

One of them had been hit by a car just at the end of that blind curve where neither could have seen the other coming. It was on the shoulder, an enormous wing angled upright, being blown softly by the wind.

A day or two later, I saw a bicyclist stop and pick up its body carefully, as if to honor this huge beautiful bird for having graced our lives, and he moved it to a small depression in the hillside where a tiny stream of water sometimes runs in winter, as if in burial. Away from the hard road and back to the nature it belonged to.

I mourned, too, for the hawk that had lost its mate. I saw it from time to time, alone now, as I waited to pick Richard up in the evenings.

Yesterday morning at 8:30 I had just turned up that hill a little farther down when I saw it: those wings, that size, the brilliant white against the new light of the day. A bit of gray in its tail and shoulders and its feet tucked in. It was rising, soaring on the wind.

Rushing home to my Sibley’s guide, it was a light morph of either a ferruginous hawk.

Or of a red-tailed. So there was a hawk nest up there this year after all.

Flying free, last year’s pain a distant memory of its elders.

May we learn from the hawks.

With love from London
Wednesday July 06th 2016, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,History,Life,Lupus

Before I forget. Actually, I wasn’t there because it was held outside in the sun, but Richard went and helped flip pancakes at the Fourth of July celebration at church Monday morning. I knew the old veterans that would be stepping forward in turn to say where and when they’d served, and I knew there would probably be younger ones that might surprise me to see them in uniform, too.

But hey, lupus, and so you get this report second hand.

He told me who one of the speakers was–a young dad who’s here for grad school and because his wife grew up here.

It took me a moment as it sank in. A Brit?! On the Fourth of July?

Richard was grinning as he recounted the tale. The guy had started off by taking a good, appraising look all around and then back to his audience with, “I like what you’ve done with the place.”

And then he’d said some of the things he’d found that he liked about America.

People in the stores call him sir all the time. That would never happen back home!

You can have all the water you want at a restaurant.

He named a particular fast-food joint.

Drive-ins. Drive-ins!

(And actually, at one of those drive-ins, his little boys can come inside and watch the people slice the potatoes and then fry them up and hand them to them to eat. High entertainment for small children while still at the pace of the actual food.)

Some pictures
Tuesday July 05th 2016, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS

In progress, and done.

A close-up including of one of the dark spots at the center.

I think the variegated-purples skein at the end was a bit too much purple, although it was a good transition from the red (and I needed the extra length and I knew Kathryn didn’t have a second bag of Anniversario in that weight.) The mostly-red skein was definitely a sharp transition from the green-purple–maybe I should have alternated pairs of rows of those two for awhile.

But then not a single skein matched another one anyway so why change how I’m doing it now, I kept figuring.

I like the purl side better because of the way the purl bump colors play with their mates, definitely a different effect from the front (see the in-progress photo at the top).

All along my eyes have proclaimed this my Northern Lights project because what else could this be?

And if I were really good I’d knit the fern lace motif again for one more purple skein, unravel the afghan’s cast on, and kitchener the two pieces together to have the ends matching.

Ain’t happening.

Some notes on the yarn: I was trying to arrange the skeins in a symmetrical pattern going across as much as possible. I found the early skeins just slightly muted compared to the others, but for what I was trying to represent that’s fine.

Definitely a fun afghan to curl up with. And warm. Not sure I’d do it again exactly like this one but I’m glad I did it.

Purple reigns
Monday July 04th 2016, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

This was going to be the last skein. See all that purple? The afghan needed to end in mostly-purple.

Amazing how much of this didn’t come out looking that way at all, including a ladder alternating in black and bright lime. The colors all along have been like kids at recess, spreading out across the playground.

Eh, the blanket could stand to be a little longer anyway.

So tomorrow I wind up a mostly-dark but variegated purple, a +1 to the dye lot bag and originally intended towards a border anyway, and finish the thing.

Sunday July 03rd 2016, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Mango tree

Six days later… 

My mango tree had two branches when it arrived in December nineteen months ago, twelve by the end of last summer, and it looks like we’ll have forty-five by the end of this.

(Fruit next year, then, right? Right, tree?)

All tucked in: the afghan now covers the feet if you don’t pull it too high up in your lap.



It knits itself
Saturday July 02nd 2016, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I kept looking at it draped over my knees towards my hands and thinking, how did that happen already?

As far as I can tell unblocked and still on the needles I’m at about 60×40″ so far. Malabrigo Mecha in Anniversario colorway, one skein for each of the ten years that Malabrigo is celebrating with that name and that kaleidoscope; I started it last Friday (after ditching the purple that was going to be the border–I think it’ll make a great sideways-knit scarf.) Photo taken in today’s late afternoon light a skein of yarn ago.

Every hank in the dye lot is different. Every one somehow works within the context of the others: even when I don’t think it will, it does and then the one after that confirms it and I can’t wait to see the whole thing done.

Winding down
Friday July 01st 2016, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,LYS

Goodbye, and Thanks For All The Fish.

I read that email, scrolling past the dolphin photo, inwardly pleading, NO. Oh please no!

It was true.

I put my carry-around cowl project in my purse and headed over to Purlescence. Sandi and Kaye were both there and we exchanged grief and thanks and hugs and memories of the good that had been.

But it came down to this: over the last ten years they had taught many how to knit, to crochet, to spin and to weave, and they knew some of those would continue to teach others. But they themselves had had very little time to make anything–they both described crafting at 4 am because the imperative to create felt so strong and had been kept in check for so long.

And so they decided to retire, and Purlescence will close for good August 28th.

But…but…but…but… !!!

I’m happy for them. I’m very sorry for all the rest of us. I’m glad we got to have that community gathering place as long as we did–and the wait for Stitches next February just got much much longer.